Batiste, rookie Massie move in at OT for Arizona

Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt is shifting D’Anthony Batiste to

left tackle and moving in rookie Bobby Massie at right tackle as he

works to stabilize what has been a shaky offensive line since the

loss of Levi Brown to a season-ending injury.

Whisenhunt liked the combination in last Thursday’s loss at

Tennessee and plans to play them only a small amount of time in

Thursday night’s preseason finale at home against Denver.

”I think we know where we are,” Whisenhunt said after

Tuesday’s practice. ”What stabilized for us in the game after we

put D’Anthony over at the left and Bobby over at the right was

where we were going to go going forward. Our expectation going into

this game is to let them play just a little bit and see how that

goes.”

Batiste gets his chance after knocking around the NFL for six

years, appearing in 22 games, four of them last season with the

Cardinals (tied for No. 23 in the AP Pro32). His only starts were

four games in 2007 with the Atlanta Falcons.

”We felt very strongly about D’Anthony coming into this

season,” Whisenhunt said. ”because of his work in the offseason

and what he did for us last year. In spot play for us against

Minnesota he did a very nice job when (guard) Daryn (Colledge) went

out. Then he’s done a good job throughout the spring. Our hopes

were he would take the right tackle position and we knew that he

was a backup at left tackle. He did a nice job in the game (against

Tennessee) so I just want to see him do it again this week and I

expect him to do that.”

Massie is a massive (6-foot-6, 316-pound) fourth-round draft

pick out of Mississippi.

”The first game against New Orleans he struggled in pass

protection,” Whisenhunt said. ”You knew that was going to be the

case with a young guy. Probably for him, the fifth game is a big

benefit. He played well last week. He’s played better, he’s

practiced well this week, so we’re expecting this to translate into

the game.”

The wild card in the offensive line shuffle is Jeremy Bridges,

who has played in 110 games over eight NFL seasons – 55 as a

starter, but has been limited to playing with the backups,

sometimes as a third-stringer, throughout the preseason.

Colledge, the starter at left guard, practiced some at left

tackle this week ”more for contingency-type plans,” Whisenhunt

said.

Finding a semblance of stability on the offensive line is

crucial to improvement at quarterback, where Whisenhunt still

hasn’t announced a winner in the competition between Kevin Kolb and

John Skelton. Neither candidate will play Thursday night, but

expect Whisenhunt to crown a winner by Friday, a scenario that

would match what he did in 2008, when he finally gave the job to

Kurt Warner over Matt Leinart. That team made it to the Super

Bowl.

Both quarterbacks have been leveled by a furious pass rush in

the preseason, but it did subside when Batiste moved over to

replace the struggling D.J. Young against the Titans.

The 30-year-old Batiste, who stands 6-4 and weighs 314 pounds,

has taken a rough road through the NFL’s backwaters.

He was not drafted in 2004 out of Louisiana-Lafayette but was

persistent and signed with Dallas’ practice squad two years later.

He spent time with the practice squads of Dallas and Carolina

before signing with Atlanta in 2007 and getting his first chance to

play. He appeared in eight games with Washington in 2008 before

being waived. He spent a year on the Dallas practice squad before

being signed by the Cardinals in November 2010.

He played in one game that season and four for Arizona last

year.

”I just think every day you’ve just got to go out there and get

better,” Batiste said. ”Whether it’s first-team, second-team,

your objective every day is to go out there and get better. As long

as you’re doing that, you’ll make yourself a better player and have

a better team.”

Batiste was asked what he can do to help the youngster

Massie.

”I can help out because a lot of the mistakes he might make

I’ve already made,” he said with a smile.

Massie said that he’s been working since he arrived in Arizona

to improve his blocking technique to meet the rigors of the NFL,

where tackles usually get noticed only when they don’t do their

job.

”It’s more mental than anything,” he said. ”Everybody’s big

and fast here so you’ve got to beat them mentally. You’ve got to

know your playbook and understand what you’re doing out on the

field. Without that, you ain’t going to be out there long.”

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